A health epidemic and possible crisis loom in Usung Atiat community in Oruk Anam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State as the village council chairman is said to have masterminded exhumation and abandonment of corpse of an indigene of the area.
Our correspondent gathered that the corpse of a 61-year-old indigene of the community, Aniefiok Daniel Effiong, was exhumed on the orders of the village council chairman, chief Aniedu Thompson Okon on grounds that some items were not offered by the deceased family to him.
Prior to the internment of the deceased remains the village council via a letter signed by the Chairman-in-Council, Chief Aniedu O. Thompson, and Secretary-in-Council, Ikobong John, on September 20, 2021, and sent to the family of the deceased demanded the following items be given to the council before the burial date: one she-goat, five tubers of yam, a jar of palm wine, one crate of mineral, one carton of beer, one bottle of kai-kai (local gin), one bottle of Lords Dry Gin, garden egg, tobacco, ntuen ibok (alligator pepper), condiments and firewood.
According to the letter sighted by a CitizenDiary reporter, the council said the items were to be given as punishment for an “abnormal act” committed by the deceased while alive.
“Failure to bring the items, no burial should be conducted in the village,” the letter warned.
The family was, however, not told of the “abnormal act” referenced by the village council. The council equally rebuffed enquires from the newspaper’s reporter on the issue.
The deceased family has is demanding justice on the matter in a petition forwarded to the Akwa Ibom State Police Command.
The petition dated September 27, 2021, and signed by one Uduak Effiong Bassey, is entitled ‘A case of desecration of corpse and unlawful possession of arms perpetuated by Mr Aniedu Okon Thompson (Chairman, Village Council), Ikobong John (Chairman, Village Council), Udo Lincoln, Udo Iboro Akpanusen, Mfon Sunday Udoakpan and others.’
The petitioner alleged that in addition to the letter, the village council chairman verbally threatened him that the burial would not hold, citing one Silas Akifa as a witness.
Bassey noted that he drew the attention of Akifa to the exhumation of the corpse.
“Akifa together with me were able to identify the above persons desecrating the remains of late Aniefiok Bassey, firing gunshots into the air and eventually dumped the corpse by a bush track and covered the grave.”
He lamented that “as at the time of writing, the corpse is still left abandoned by a bush track and this constitutes abomination, an act that is capable of plunging the village into crisis.”
The police command was urged to “as a matter of urgency to intervene in this matter and bring the culprits to justice to forestall breakdown of law and order in Usung Atiat village.”